Opening The 35th MTV Video Music Awards, on Monday night, seemed to scratch the twenty-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes close to his t-shirt, which quickly drenched in his skin under a dramatic torrent of stage rain. But as far as his princely efforts are concerned, what circulated online was a sixteen-second video by Rihanna, spinning in a summer dress in Cuba, where she reportedly records a film. Just a few years ago, when pop-senior statesmen still thought they were attending the show an obligation, her absence could be interpreted as "shadow." She got the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after all, in 2016, which was awarded to her by Pepsi and a blubbing Drake. But in the two years since the next class waiting in the wings has been moved to the center, complete with facial tattoos and a contagious, wide sadness. Generation Z is now set. The elders turn back. Were the C.G.I. storm clouds backgrounding Mendes a sign?
Not exactly. The ceremony of this year, the first true post-millennial V.M.A.s, was so shocked, sex and insulted that it hardly seemed to be registered. There was no host and no structural segment to win the prize winners to antic or badly advertised twerks. The course of events was unnerving. The rain of Mendes was not a blatant metaphor for night emissions; In My Blood, the song that he has performed is a platitudinal piece about fear, done in unironic soft rock. Mendes, who released his third album earlier this year, is technically an artist from the middle of the career. He became famous on the now dead platform Vine, as a telegenic fourteen-year-old guitarist, making him the spiritual son of Justin Bieber, another veteran who was not present this year. At the V.M.A.s 2015 Bieber broke into tears and delivered "What Do You Mean ?," a tune about failed communication, dolorously communicative. He was twenty-one, singing about what the internet produced fame of the youths sucks.
At the time, and decades earlier, the V.M.A.s was one of the ghostly displays of the flippant fame in the industry, and the surplus, the rights and the ego that make the music world play. But even with the catnip of Beyoncé, Katy Perry, the Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, the sermon of Kanye West and the other similar layered stars that have appeared in broadcasts of the past, V.M.A. viewers have become disastrous year after year; the prediction in 2018, when the biggest surprises Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick drop the introduction of the Rockettes, and Brian Littrell, of the Backstreet Boys, the word "shit" and avoid the network censorship, suggests that the trend will continue. Only the tableau of Ariana Grande, that caressed her bleached blonde beau Pete Davidson, gave off the hormonal vapors of the unfiltered celebrity.
Many of this year's presenters were not musicians at all, but comedians and comedy-adjacent actors, who were willing to enliven the show briefly in exchange for connecting their upcoming films. "Stop writing on your fucking face!" Schold handed out Tiffany Haddish, who presented her first prize alongside Kevin Hart, her co-star in the upcoming "Night School". Camera's that haunt to adhere to the skin decoration of the twenty-three-year-old Post Malone and the twenty-one-year-old Lil Xan – who is the friend of eighteen-year-old Noah Cyrus, who is the little sister of Miley – unfortunately also have the many empty seats of the theater. The most important prize ceremonies take place on Sunday, a day whose Christian interest in these broadcasts gives a feeling of splendor. This year, on a Monday night broadcast, MTV seemed to admit that the V.M.A.s now resembles the Teen Choice Awards, which is held on a Wednesday, more than even the appearance of the Grammy's.
As a creature focused on his evolutionary fitness, MTV has spent his rudimentary organ music videos in recent years. The tired joke is that the network has not broadcast any programs for ten years based on its namesake (Music Television). (I worked at MTV News, the news website that operates separately from the network, between 2016 and 2017.) Perhaps they were worried by the recent dismal "TRL" start, but the producers of the VMAs avoided the word "video" "as if it were the plague. Categories include "Best pop", "Best hip hop" and, most offensive, "Best Latin" ("Best Latin what? ", The sober grammatician asks himself.) Ironically, the aversion of the network comes against video, fueled by the fear that the medium seems mysterious to a new generation, in a year in which music videos are somewhat new to life. It is plausible that even Childish Gambino's "This Is America", which won in the category "Best Video with a Message", had a greater impact this year than the man-of-the-people video of Drake. "God & # 39; s Plan" showed that he spends a million dollars on citizens in Miami and has not taken home any prizes, and even if it did, Drake was not there to collect them.
A near light was the late recognition by the show of Spanish artists. The Video Vanguard Award winner was Jennifer Lopez, who struck the stage in shimmering Timberland boots. The twenty-five-year-old Cardi B went to Best New Artist. Twenty-one-year-old Camila Cabello won prizes for Video of the Year and Artist of the Year. Another highlight was the serious rapper Logica. He was followed by hundreds of young children, the sons and daughters of leaders of pro-immigrant organizations, who wore T-shirts who said, "We are human beings." Logica said "F * ck the Wall". Their parade seemed to be a reversal of Eminem's 2000 VMA attack, with clones of the rapper Radio City swarming in Music hall. Justify themselves without being afraid of sentiment – this is the new way to blow off the power that is there.
MTV also tried to profile itself as an A. & R. incubator, with a new segment of rapid performance by a number of nominees for Push Artist of the Year & # 39; combined. Viewers had to vote for their favorite young act. When the acts were intolerable, such as a boy band called Pretty Much or the dizzying Bazzi, who wants to envelop his girl in Gucci, the long playing time of the performance seemed gracious; when they were interesting, like the nineteen-year-old Juice Wrld, it seemed vaguely cruel. Hayley Kiyoko, the emerging and exciting & # 39; Lesbian Jesus & # 39 ;, has happily won. The optimism of the Push artists, however, could not obscure the remarkable avoidance of the tragedy that hit several new guard musicians this year. Lil Peep, Avicii, Jimmy Wopo and XXXTentacion all died this year, gruesome young; the only recognition of their death was by Rita Ora, who, when she saw her out of the picture for her collaboration with Avicii, said: "Let's give it up for Avicii!"
In accordance with V.M.A. tradition, hip hop was neutralized on this year's show, downgraded to the margins. Nicki Minaj, one of the only mega-stars who was present, had expected to introduce a wildcard element, given the tumultuous rollout of her new album, "Queen"; instead, she gave a fully competent performance, which was made in the Oculus, in the center of Manhattan. Travis Scott, who has the number 1 album in the country, rips through a medley of "Astroworld." "Rest in peace with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin," he said when his time ended.
When the viewer, two and a half hours in this dying ritual, thought she would fall asleep without letting her nerves work, Madonna arrived to displace her with a Franklin testimony of herself. An icon of one musical style was unjustly charged with commemorating the legend of an entirely different one. (MTV & # 39; s fetishization of the past of youth cultures is matched by an inability to distinguish between artists over 50.) Madonna knew better than to sing a Franklin; so, instead, she paid homage to herself. Dressed in Faux-Berber costume, the Queen of Pop told a long, bizarre story about not impressing the French producers with her rendition of "Say a Little Prayer for You". "Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life," she said. The yarn seemed to have been written by a team that thought the audience of Generation Z did not know who Aretha Franklin was. If the V.M.A.s need qualitative proof that it has lost its dependence on music, this tribute was overwhelming evidence. I did not intend to be offended by a speech. Fortunately 21 Savage and Post Malone, which has grown on me in the way of an invasive plant, came, helped by Aerosmith, to pull me back into the unobtrusive.